Read more of Steve Austin’s story at Alumni Spotlight: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Steve Austin: One of the things that I really think is important is to redeem the time. Maybe something you think an accountant would be focused on is, you know, watching the clock and seeing hours and minutes tick away. But the reality is Psalms talks about how important it is to count the days of your life and to realize God’s given you a finite amount of time to serve Him and to evangelize and also help grow as a Christian in your family and your church and your business.
I’m Steve Austin here in San Diego. I’m a certified public accountant and graduated from Bob Jones University in 1974. So that’s a while ago, but we’ve been in San Diego for over 30 years now. And I’m the managing partner of a regional CPA firm, one of the top 20 firms in the eighth largest city in the United States.
I got a call from the associate editor of the Journal of Accountancy, and he said can you write an article. So we did that, and they really liked our writing. So we ended up producing five of them, but it has set us apart in terms of thought leadership.
I decided at the request of a Christian publisher to write a book on the rise of the new ethics class. It really takes a lot of biblical Scripture and looks at the issue of personal responsibility for making right decisions. The book has been used by various business schools over the years, but it was really designed to kind of help people think about the Enron crisis from a biblical perspective.
A lot of the DNA of Bob Jones University kind of rubs off on graduates. You become a subject matter expert over time, but most importantly you end up picking up a lot of intangible assets along the way. The school not only gives you a solid education in the area that you are focused on, but more importantly as a Christian it gives you a lot of other tools to survive in terms of establishing and enforcing your biblical worldview and in particular in being successful in the field that you’re in. You can get a lot accomplished if you simply will allow yourself to do things and to volunteer for things, and you can have a great impact on other people’s lives and on your service for the Lord.
The great thing about owning the firm as a Christian is I am able to do things that I’ve always wanted to do, the freedom to do a lot of what I call pro bono work and in some cases low bono work. But we do quite a bit of work with a group called the San Diego Rescue Mission. Which a lot of cities have rescue missions. That’s not unusual. But this one is one of the leaders in the United States, one of the top 10 I believe. So it’s a beloved mission. But we’ve also enjoyed the fact that they really have had a strong Christian testimony in this town and an outreach to the unsaved.
Donnie Dee, President & CEO, San Diego Rescue Mission: As the president and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission there’s a lot of organizations that we do business with. Swenson Advisors and Steve Austin is one of those. But Steve is more than a business associate. He’s a good friend. He’s a confidant, and he’s a partner. I consider him a partner in the work that we do here at the San Diego Rescue Mission because he cares deeply about our community and about the people that we serve.
Austin: One of the boards that I sit on is our elder board at our church Faith Community Church which is in North County San Diego. I’m of course the treasurer which you’d expect, and I enjoy producing the financial results of the church. So translating your accounting experience into how do you help the local church. For accountants it’s pretty natural, but there are a lot of other things. My wife’s very involved with the children’s ministries, and we enjoy bringing our grandkids there from time to time to grow and understand what the Lord can do for them.
Justin Windham, Lead Pastor, Faith Community Church: Steve Austin has been an elder here for longer than I’ve been here. He is a champion of biblical worldview and also is a great steward of God’s finances. He helped us purchase and build this building debt free. And in doing that we’ve been able to leverage the funds that do come in the church to get back out into the community and into the world through ministries that really matter.
Austin: So about five or six years ago we had prayed and wanted to have a foundation that was faith-based, focused largely on children and helping them both with their spiritual needs including distribution of Bibles but also helping them with clothing issues and food and other support that they needed. So Swenson Children’s Foundation was founded about five years ago and has now been very active. My youngest daughter Sarah is the executive director. We hope that the firm will continue for a long time, but the foundation will really be the legacy for the Austin family and also for the firm.
I’ve been in San Diego for three decades, 30 years, and I’ve seen this town transform itself from being a sleepy navy town to a technology juggernaut. But during that time I’ve also thought about redeeming the time and how does my life, the accounting firm, our family, the Swenson Foundation impact this community for God. And the challenge is really to be faithful and to work hard to make sure that your life counts for the Lord.